The other night I indulged on some Tostitos and nacho cheese from a can. I couldn’t help but reminisce. In junior high and high school, I played basketball and volleyball. On our way home from tournaments or away games, we’d always stop and go to 7-11 for snacks. I usually didn’t have money to buy those coveted snacks. Paper bag lunches or bust for me. Sometimes my teammates would come back with tortilla chips drenched in nacho cheese. You know the kind? The kind where the chips would gets soggy from the warm cheese sauce. I remember getting to sample those deliciously saturated chips and wishing I could have a container to call my own. I eventually did. And they didn’t disappoint.
Well, fast forward 20 years. I took my son to a PJ Masks live performance. We each picked out some things at the concession. The first thing I was drawn to was the tortilla chips with nacho cheese. I was taken back to my sports playing days. To the days of belonging to a team and feeling part of something. Something as simple as nachos and cheese could make me feel so many happy things. I was looking forward to digging in. I was anticipating the juxtaposition of crunchy outer chips to the inner soft, saturated cheesy chips. I had built up my expectations only to be disappointed. The chips were stale. The cheese was cold. (It makes me think of Encino Man’s “the cheese is old and moldy”.) The sauce to chip ratio was super chintzy. In other words, NO SOGGY CHIPS.
Expectations. I’ve struggled with this for most of my life without even recognizing it as such. I have placed expectations on many things, only to be disappointed in some way. I have placed high and unrealistic expectations on myself. I have also put those high expectations onto other people and things/situations.
I have a few more stories to illustrate high and unrealistic expectations I’ve placed on others. Picture this. Keegan and I didn’t have children for the first four and a half years of our marriage. However, each and every Mother’s Day of our childless years, I’d end up so disappointed that Keegan did NOT celebrate me on Mother’s Day. My mom always celebrated me and my sisters on Mother’s Day. I thought this was to be expected that Keegan should too. I felt so ripped off because I WOULD be the mother to his children one day and he obviously SHOULD celebrate for this reason. How insensitive he was.
I have so many more stories like this. I’d end up hurt and disappointed and Keegan would end up frustrated and left feeling undervalued. It wasn’t the best situation. We couldn’t thrive as a couple with the looming cloud of unattainable ideals hanging over our heads. Sure, I have calmed down, matured and grown as a person in general. But I still have had a tendency towards high expectations. I’ve only started to acknowledge my unrealistic expectations within the past few years. This Alcoholics Anonymous quote is pretty hard hitting: “Expectations are premeditated resentments”. I have never considered this before, but it’s absolutely true. Now that I’m becoming more aware, I realize I really don’t like feeling resentment. It’s a poison that spreads to many other areas in my life.
Sometimes, okay, often times, I just expect people to be and think like me. “…but I have a newsflash for you, Walter Cronkite… you aren’t.” We are not all the same. This is a hard thing for me to learn. These expectations can leave me hurt, disappointed and feeling insecure. It leaves me doubting myself big time.
I am going to add one more story to further illustrate my expectations. I grew up with my mom serving people in our community. She’d serve with her time, her skills and her love. It was kind of routine to watch her take dinner to families who needed some extra love. I couldn’t help but continue this service. It was part of me. And it makes me so happy. I know I can’t help in the big ways, but I sure can pray and take food over to someone who needs it. Am I a great cook? I get by. (You’ll notice that this is not a food blog.) Does my family enjoy what I make? Yes. Am I insecure about taking dinner over to others? Absolutely.
Now, that doesn’t sound like having expectations, right? Just keep reading and you’ll see. I’m a thanker. In fact, I’m an over-thanker. (I’m often an over-apologizer, too, and that’s for another day.) Because of this, I have kind of expected others to be that same way. When you do things for others, you shouldn’t have expectations at all. You did what you felt you needed/wanted to do and that should be thanks enough. For me, it wasn’t. If I wasn’t thanked after the meal had been eaten, I was left thinking dinner was disgusting. Or bisgusting, as my three year old used to say. I’ve learned now that l shouldn’t rely on others to make me feel validated. No one can fill that void, except God and myself.
I’m trying harder than ever to be more mindful. To reflect and have more self-awareness. I’m trying to let go of these tendencies and look for the good. Having gratitude changes everything. It’s the antidote for almost anything negative. Oh, and counselling helped, too. I needed a neutral person who would help me see unhealthy patterns. Sometimes it hurt, but I needed that proverbial kick in the pants. I learned that I have been projecting myself and my issues onto others. I would feel like no matter what I’d do, it’d never be good enough. I have unrealistic expectations on myself, so I project that onto other people and situations/things. Perfect segue to expectations I place on myself. I feel like this needs to be another blog post, though. (I’ll link it once it’s written.)
So here’s to mindfulness! Here’s to keeping our expectations in check! Like one of my favourite bloggers out there says, “We are action-taking, problem-solving women!” (Allie Casazza has been instrumental in my journey, in so many ways. Stay tuned for my minimalism post.) We can figure this out and make changes. We can! Here’s to being content and recognizing that we are all enough. Here’s to dealing with our issues! It’s our time to thrive.